Stepping in before families get violent

The disturbing story of a 4-year-old boy beaten to death makes people wonder how this could have been prevented and what could have been done.

While we might never know the true answer, there is help available for families that are struggling.

Child advocacy groups say stress plays a major role in the beginning, building and boiling over of violent situations.

"The more challenges there are, the more stress there is in a family, the fewer resources that are available to those families, that increases the likelihood that this happens," Amy Krug of Priority Children in Flint said.

Krup says while that's not an excuse for bad behavior, she says the statistics prove it.

"People get so overwhelmed and so frustrated and so mixed up into what's happening in their life that they're not thinking clearly," Krug said.

Sunday afternoon, 4-year-old Dominick Calhoun was found by Genesee County's Argentine Township Police lying on the floor, beaten severely.

He was taken off life support Monday morning.

Child advocacy experts say these types of situations normally do not happen instantly, but that it progresses over time.

They say, as a neighbor, friend, or family member, people should recognize if someone is having a hard time and volunteer to help to diffuse the situation.

Krug says, "Offer to watch the kids, while they take a break and go for a walk."

In severe cases, experts say don't hesitate to get authorities involved.

"If they suspect that something bad is happening, they need to take personal responsibility for that. It is everyone's responsibility for that. If you know a child is being hurt or suspect it, you've got to take action," Krug says.

Experts say turning to family members, friends, church, or programs offered by the state can help reduce the chance of something happening.

They add that there is child abuse and neglect happens in every community and that those going through stressful situations might also turn to substances to cope.

Experts also say that the best advice is for those who need the help to ask for it and those who recognize the need to give it.